Neuronal Kv7/KCNQ channels are critical regulators of neuronal excitability since they potently suppress repetitive firing of action potentials. These voltage-dependent potassium channels are composed mostly of Kv7.2 / KCNQ2 and Kv7.3 / KCNQ3 subunits that show overlapping distribution throughout the brain and in the peripheral nervous system. They are also called ‘M-channels’ since their inhibition by muscarinic agonists leads to a profound increase in action potential firing. Consistent with their ability to suppress seizures and attenuate chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain, mutations in the KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 genes are associated with benign familial neonatal convulsions, a dominantly-inherited epilepsy in infancy. Recently, de novo mutations in the KCNQ2 gene have been linked to early onset epileptic encephalopathy. Notably, some of these mutations are clustered in a region of the intracellular cytoplasmic tail of Kv7.2 that interacts with a ubiquitous calcium sensor, calmodulin. In this review, we highlight the recent advances in understanding the role of calmodulin in modulating physiological function of neuronal Kv7 channels including their biophysical properties, assembly, and trafficking. We also summarize recent studies that have investigated functional impact of epilepsy-associated mutations localized to the calmodulin binding domains of Kv7.2.
- action potential
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics